How would Athenians have dealt with Donald Trump?

Has Humpty-Trumpty had a great fall, or a great bounce? That will depend on what the Great American Public thinks was at stake in his trial. It was ever thus in the democracy of ancient Athens. In the absence of a state prosecution service, all legal cases in ancient Athens were brought by individuals. But a jury trial often had to await the result of an attempt to settle out of court. This consisted of two mediation processes: one private and, if that failed, the other public under an appointed arbitrator. If there was still no agreement, the case went to trial before a randomly selected jury of between 200

Compelling and somewhat heartbreaking: Girls State, on Apple TV+, reviewed

Here’s a fun thought experiment: instead of entrusting the future of American democracy to one of two old men, what if you put it in the hands of 500 teenage girls? Girls State, the sister documentary to Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss’s award-winning 2020 film Boys State, follows the events of a week-long civic engagement camp where high-schoolers create an all-female democracy from scratch. A feminist manifesto is much easier to compose than a real solution to culturally ingrained inequality Girls State and Boys State programmes have given argumentative American teens an education in the necessary evil of politics since the 1930s. Each state has its own variations of the

Turkey is at an existential crossroads

The wonderful Barbara Kingsolver wrote that hope is something you should not admire from a distance, but rather live inside of, ‘under its roof’. Last week I lived under the roof of hope as the campaigns for the first round of the Turkish presidential elections drew to a close. This is an existential crossroads for Turkey, my motherland. The AKP under Recep Tayyip Erdogan have been in power for two decades. Although they started off on their journey with promises of liberal reforms, a democratic constitution, and plenty of rhetoric about joining the EU, they have become increasingly nationalist, Islamist, patriarchal and authoritarian with each passing year. Women’s rights have

Douglas Murray

How to fake it till you make it

Not to sound too much like Kamala Harris during one of her peregrinations on the nature of time, but the thing about the future is that it catches up with you awfully fast. For a while we have been warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence and the special hazards of ‘deepfakes’. It seemed so futuristic when we saw a deepfake of Barack Obama some years ago, which demonstrated how easy it was to put words into someone’s mouth that they did not say. Well, now we have had an example in real time. Or at least the electorate in Turkey have. Personally I am not persuaded that Turkey’s election

Why tactical voting is so dangerous for the Tories

Boris Johnson has always been a celebrity politician. It is one of the reasons why the normal rules of politics have so often not applied to him. This status has given him political reach and put him on first-name terms with the public. It makes it easier for him to command media attention than other politicians: a fact that he turned to his advantage in 2016 and 2019. But this strength is now becoming a weakness. Johnson’s ability to dominate politics means that the country is now polarising into pro- and anti-Boris camps. The worry for him is that he has more opponents than supporters. Last week’s by-elections suggest people

How to lose elections XXXX

I have remarked here before about our era’s tendency to accept election results if your side wins but to reject them if they lose. Happily in the UK there is no significant body of opinion which believes that Jeremy Corbyn won the 2019 election. True, there are a few Momentum loons who still think that Corbyn would have won had the Tories not somehow got more votes. But even among the most diehard Momentum-ites few actually come up with stories of ballot rigging, high-level corruption and more. Still, our country is not immune to the ‘I only accept the results if my side wins’ tendency. After all, we had Carole

Boris Johnson is preparing to fight the wrong election

The next election won’t be like the 2019 campaign. It will be far tougher for the Tories. Ministers were struck by a recent presentation by the Tory strategist Isaac Levido to the cabinet a fortnight ago, in which he stressed that the next election would be much more like 2015 than 2019. Levido’s argument was that the three key factors which led to the Conservative victory two years ago were Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson — but the next election campaign would be a far more traditional affair. To win, as I write in the magazine this week, the Tories will have to show that they have delivered on their

The German elections are good news for Macron

The German election result means that a three party coalition will almost certainly be needed to form a government. Olaf Scholz, the SPD leader, has made clear just now that he is going to try and form a coalition with the Greens and the Free Democrats. Whoever succeeds her will take time to build up the authority that Merkel had in these meetings Scholz has a strong claim on the chancellery. The SPD came first in the election and polls consistently showed that he was Germans’ preferred choice for candidate. Despite being from a different party, Scholz successfully positioned himself as the Merkel continuity candidate. The results might suggest a

German voters set for a tense night

The German elections have turned out to be an unexpected nail-biter. Since the exit polls were released earlier this evening the result has been too close to call. Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and their coalition partners, the SPD, are both predicted to have received 25 per cent of the vote each, which means it will remain unclear throughout the evening who has won as the votes continue to be counted. Despite the close result, the mood in the Christian Democratic camp is subdued. Angela Merkel’s would-be successor Armin Laschet has received the worst result his party has achieved in its history. The exit polls showed that 1.4 million of their voters

Has it really got harder to see a GP in person?

Floating vote Voters in St Petersburg were presented with three candidates all calling themselves Boris Vishnevsky, with two believed to have changed name and appearance to draw votes from the other. It is not the first time voters have faced a confusing choice: — In a Moscow city election in 2019 voters had the option of voting for ‘Alexander Solovyov’ — though it turned out not to be the Alexander Solovyov who was in prison at the time and barred from standing. — In the 2017 local election in Ferguslie Park, Glasgow, Conservative John McIntyre was elected, with many speculating that voters had meant to opt for an independent candidate

Matthew Parris

Champagne, sex or the Tories: what could you live without?

In idle chatter the other evening, somebody pooh-poohed champagne. He was a brave soul because in certain circles — and this was among them — one is presumed to think the presence of champagne a mark of opulence, extravagance, a special occasion, a treat. In even more exalted circles, of course, a display is made of not thinking it a treat but a staple, and babbling in a familiar manner about ‘Bolly’ as though one had proceeded straight from the breast to the bubbly without passing through lemonade on the way. ‘To be honest,’ said my friend, ‘if Fate were to touch my shoulder and whisper that I would never

Even Tories should be wary of Gove’s election stitch-up

Conservative politicians appear willing to revolt on every issue: tax rises, China, lockdowns. But on the accumulation of power by their party they remain silent. The system is being rigged to their advantage, and on that shady objective they are happy to give the Johnson administration a free pass. Imagine a football club giving itself the right to decide when the referee can grant a penalty – or a gang of potential criminals having a veto over police investigations – and you will understand the impact of the government’s latest proposals perfectly. Its Elections Bill places the referee under the control of the ruling party and the cops in the

France’s provocateur is coming to London

Five years ago, London’s affluent French poured their dosh into the campaign of Emmanuel Macron. This time around, supporters of France’s rising provocateur are trying a similar tactic. Eric Zemmour is the Tucker Carlson of French media. A potential rival to Marine Le Pen, he is planning a visit to London in October. His undeclared but badly concealed French presidential campaign has the backing of ‘Generation Z’, a shadowy group of French political consultants and fundraisers, who are looking at the monied expatriates of South Kensington and seeing potential campaign money. If Macron’s people aren’t spooked by Zemmour, they aren’t acting like it I profiled Zemmour in the magazine in

Germany is facing political stagnation

Jamaica, Germany, Kenya or traffic lights? The names of the potential German coalitions — and their corresponding party colours — can be quite exotic. But as the vote has begun to split in the run up to the federal elections next month, the possible combinations that will make up Germany’s government have grown. The race is still wide open. Coalitions were purposefully built into Germany’s post-war democracy — the voting system mixes first-past-the-post with proportional representation to ensure a workable splintering. With one notable exception in 1957, no political party has received the votes of over half of the electorate outright. It usually falls to the party with the most

It’s no surprise younger voters are losing faith in democracy

There is an idea of the state that argues that the role of government is to act as a benevolent social planner, redistributing resources for the benefit of the population as a whole. British governance has more in common with Mancur Olson’s concept of the stationary bandit, a tyrant with a captive population and a desire to maximise the wealth he can extract. The only twist is that rather than a group of warriors seizing wealth by force, Britain works to the benefit of a large number of elderly pensioners thanks to their tendency to reliably turn out at the polls. To very briefly recap, years of austerity cuts combined